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If you're going to drive all the way to Altoona for the state playoffs you better make it worth the trip.

The Elco boys tennis team did.

The Raiders made a trek out west on Tuesday and came home with a 4-1 victory over District Six champ Richland in the opening round of the PIAA Class AA Team Tournament at Altoona High School.

The District Three third seed, Elco was led by senior mainstays Adam Bahney and Galen McNaughton, who each produced convincing straight-set wins at No.1 and 2 singles, respectively.

Those victories, combined with doubles triumphs by Linden and Mason Bennetch and Christian Stahl and Dawson Smith lifted Elco into Friday's quarterfinal round vs. District 9 champ Elk County Catholic. The matchup is slated for 3:30 p.m. at Hershey Racquet Club, a decidedly shorter trip than the one the Raiders embarked upon on Tuesday.

"It's a long road in a van," Elco coach Zach Cook said with a chuckle, "but we're certainly pleased with the result."

While Bahney and McNaughton were busy dropping just five games between them in their matches, the unsung Raiders' doubles teams were busy proving themselves at the state level.

The Bennetch brothers survived a three-set tussle at No. 1 doubles, while Stahl and Smith won a pair of tiebreakers to push Elco over the top in the No. 2 match.

Elco also got a great effort in a marathon three-set loss from Dylan Spitler at No.3 singles.

"It's a testament to the young guys," a pleased Cook said of the all-underclassmen doubles success. "They did what they had to do. It was just a great team win."

And it provided a great opportunity for Elco, making its third straight state tourney appearance, to continue its postseason journey in its own backyard, relatively speaking.

"My boys have been looking forward to this," Cook laughed, noting the Raiders' desire for a trip to Fuddruckers in Hershey for dinner and the opportunity to play a match with chair umpires. "It's a great accomplishment for us that we're not just showing up. They're excited about it, and we're not done yet."

Elco 4, Richland 1 at Altoona

Singles— 1. Adam Bahney (E) def. Aravind Elangovan, 6-0, 6-2, 2. Galen McNaughton (E) def. Andy Murtha, 6-2, 6-1, 3. Cole Kazmierczyk (R) def. Dylan Spitler, 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 12-10.

Doubles — 1. Linden Bennetch/Mason Bennetch (E) def. Shawn Gindlesberger/Bobby Murtha, 6-2, 2-6, 6-1, 2. Christian Stahl/Dawson Smith (E) def. Drew Layton/Ryan Leventry, 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-4).

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